Relating in Practice
If I can boast about my kiddos for just a minute, I see in them some of the best examples of relating to others. Every canine with whom we cross paths insights cries of, “I like your dog!” It doesn’t matter if it’s the mangiest mutt you’ve seen since the last natural disaster, or the most gorgeous show dog, my kids like all the dogs...And they have also figured out that this almost always opens up room for a touch-point with the owners of that dog, a smile, an hello, and almost always a “Thank you.” These adorable, small, humans present interest in their neighbors’ valued, four-legged friends. Relating well is taking an interest in something cherished by another; a way to show you appreciate the person is to appreciate what they value.
Waving – waving is another thing my kids have started doing since this pandemic hit. It started when the weather was nice, and we drove around with our windows rolled down. If we should happen to pull up next to another car with their windows down, the children begin a rather nice conversation with the occupants of said car. Tired people, lively people, old people, other kids, even teens would wave back and speak with my kids. We’ve even had a few that tried to keep pace with our car for a short bit to continue the conversation. As the weather has gotten cooler, they’ve continued waving through closed windows, receiving just as many positive reactions. A wave or a hello tells the other person that they are seen, and the magnitude of their existence is acknowledged. They are not just someone to pass on the way towards accomplishing a to-do list. They are a human with all the emotions and experiences that accompany being alive.
So here are two very simple examples of what relating well can look like. As we walk through our daily life we can relate well by appreciating, even in a very small way, what others value, and, taking the time to simply say “Hi” or wave. It may be a bit of an awkward start, but you will find so many barriers begin to break down with these two simple actions. At our former apartment complex, there resided a withdrawn, minorly communicative, dare I say, slightly grumpy neighbor…. And you may have guessed it… owned a dog. This neighbor was not prone to shoot-the-breeze, until the day my kiddos were playing outside when that dog was being walked. That day began an openness to conversation, not only with the kids, but also with me. On that day, we all began to take the time to converse, find out how the other was doing, and offer help to one another during the times that were more challenging. Their number remains an entry in my phone, though I’ve moved away from that complex. A friendship, the intersection of multiple lives, all because some kids liked a dog.
We are aware that the brevity of this post does not address the hardship of relating in more antagonistic environments. To further address these concerns, we encourage you to listen to our podcasts and join our 1Community for more relational content. You are also invited to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.